Former head of the State Environmental Fund (SFŽP) Libor Michálek was awarded Kč 500,000 on Wednesday by the newly-founded anti-corruption fund for his exposure of corruption in the Ministry of Environment. The other award winner was Ondřej Závodský, a blind lawyer who blew the whistle on misuse of funds in the Ministry of Interior.
The Endowment Fund Against Corruption (NFPK) awarded Michálek for exposing a plan in the Environment Ministry to rig a public tender in part to siphon off money from the SFŽP — administered by the environment ministry — into the coffers of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS).
Michálek recorded a conversation with Martin Knetig, a financial advisor to former environment minister Pavel Drobil (ODS), in which Knetig attempted to persuade him to see to it that a an undisclosed law firm win a tender issued by the ministry and that the money should be deposited with a certain bank — also undisclosed.
Drobil dismissed Knetig shortly after Michálek’s recording was posted on line by the website of the daily Mladá fronta dnes last December. Shortly thereafter, Drobil was forced to resign. For his part, Michálek was suspended from his job in the environment ministry on one third of his pay and banned from entering the ministry building. He remains suspended from his job.
According to Karel Randák, former head of the Czech intelligence agency (BIS) and one of the trustees of the anti-corruption fund, Michálek deserved the award “as the only person who in recent years has reported corruption on such a large scale.”
“It’s most definitely satisfying because it sends the message that those who take a stance against corrupt behavior will have support,” Michálek was quoted as saying by the news site ihned.cz.
Ondřej Závodský was awarded Kč 100,000 for exposing misuse of funds by the Services Management department of the Interior Ministry. Similarly to Michálek, Závodský was forced to leave his job; after taking office, current Interior Minister Radek John (Public Affairs – VV) insisted on Závodský’s reinstatement.
After certain legal complications, the Endowment Fund Against Corruption was registered on March 15, 2011. Initially, the Prague Municipal Court refused to register the fund as a charity because it did not accept that the fight against corruption was a cause for the common public good.
The fund was conceived by financeer Karel Janeček. Trustees include Stanislav Bernard, the owner and manager of the Bernard family brewery; economist Tomáš Sedláček; and Jan Kraus, an actor and TV talk show host.